Rim Rock Run will become full martathon

The potential has always been there,’ new director says

Rim Rock Drive from above.

It was always a unique distance for a road race, the 22.6-mile Rim Rock Run.

And when people asked why the run over Colorado National Monument wasn’t a true marathon, more often than not, the answer was, “We’re out of road.”

“It was never intended to be a marathon,” said Jeff Recker, who helped organize the race and ran in it several times. “It was a gate-to-gate run across the monument, regardless of the mileage. If that had been 15 miles, it would have been 15.

“It was a distance that is close enough to a marathon where (runners) compared it to a marathon. A natural complaint we got was, ‘Why not a marathon?’ ’’

Starting this year, it’s a marathon.

The Rim Rock Run, Recker said, is dead, and has been replaced by the Rim Rock Marathon, a full 26.2-mile marathon.

The Nov. 14 race will still travel over Colorado National Monument, but in addition to the new name and new distance, there also will be new race directors.

Chris and Amy Reed, who own and operate Ascent Productions Inc., will take over managing the event, which had been a Mesa Monument Striders project.

The Reeds organize the LiveStrong Challenge for the Lance Armstrong Foundation as well as several cycling events, and also will take over organizing the Western Colorado Triathlon this year at Highline State Park.

“The potential has always been there,” Chris Reed said of the move to a marathon. “It’s a leap of faith when you do that, change the dynamic of the event. It was almost there anyway, why not make it a marathon?”

The Rim Rock Marathon marks the return of marathon running in Grand Junction for the first time since the late 1970s and early 1980s, when The Daily Sentinel Marathon was run in the fall.

The Rim Rock Marathon will start on South Camp Road near Wingate Elementary School and enter the monument on the east end.

After climbing the monument and coming down the steep hill to the west entrance, runners will run on Colorado Highway 340 and finish at James M. Robb State Park in Fruita.

Plans for the finish area include a beer garden, a play area for children and places where spectators can watch the finish of the race, Recker said.

The new finish line will alleviate some of the congestion on Rim Rock Drive and give the race a more festive atmosphere.

The Rim Rock Run was a benefit for the Mesa State College women’s cross country program, and Reed said he has a meeting with college officials next month to see if that will continue.

One group that will benefit is the Junior Rangers Program, which was created by Colorado National Monument and the National Park Service.

Reed said he spoke with officials at the Colorado State Patrol, who are willing to work with the new course.

Runners will run on a 4-foot shoulder against traffic on Highway 340. The course will be marked by traffic cones.

The National Park Service has approved a permit for the run, the only permit for a run authorized this year on the monument, Reed said.

The permit hasn’t been signed yet, said Joan Anzelmo, the superintendent of the monument, but she anticipates it will be finalized soon.

The race will remain capped at 400 runners, but the past several years, the Rim Rock Run hadn’t come close to the limit.

Last November, only 191 runners signed up, and the costs to organize the race were getting too much for the level of participation, even with several corporate sponsors, including US Bank and The Daily Sentinel.

“Costs kept on going up while runner participation kept going down,” said Recker, who had resigned as a member of the Rim Rock Run organizing committee, as had race director Kelli Kessell.

“We were really at a crossroads. The only solution was more runners.”

Katie Hill was the driving force behind the race for more than a dozen years as the race director.

“Good for them, I’m glad,” she said. “I didn’t want it to die.”

When Kessell resigned, no one stepped forward to be the director, Recker said.

Recker, who has been a marathon proponent, hopes this is the right step but admitted there will be a faction of runners who will be upset at the change.

“Our No. 1 complaint was, ‘Why isn’t it a marathon?’ ” Recker said.

“Our second-most complaint was, ‘Don’t you dare turn it into a marathon.’ People are really divided.

“The Rim Rock Marathon is an evolution of the Rim Rock Run. It’s a separate race, a new race. The Rim Rock Run is really dead. I can’t imagine anyone trying to continue it. This is an entirely new event that builds upon the tradition of the Rim Rock Run.”


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